Do your thing, no shame.
By Zahra Barnes
Nothing gets in the way of having ~sexy, sexy sex~ as much as a ball of shame bubbling up in your stomach like sludge.
Basically anyone with a vagina is taught that there's an endless list of sexuality-related things to feel guilty about, but let me put it in the frankest terms possible: That's bullshit.
Sex is supposed to be one of the few times you can tune out all the rude and grossly incorrect "This is the right way to be a woman" messages society sends people on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, as such an intimate topic, sex is rife with things you should seemingly feel ashamed about. Not only are the following 11 things absolutely nothing to blame yourself for during sex, letting go of any worry about them can make your sex life—and your well-being in general—so much better.
1. Having a higher chance of winning the next Powerball jackpot than of orgasming right now.
Sometimes it's normal to feel like you're more likely to win the Powerball (which is sometimes less likely than being elected President of the U.S., for reference) than have an orgasm.
Not all people with vaginas orgasm during sex—it's perfectly fine to only be able to do so on your own, only be able to get there with extremely specific sexual maneuverings, or still not know what gets you there at all.
2. Getting a sore jaw during any part of the activities' proceedings.
Even if you consider yourself a champion (food)eater, your jaw can act up during long blow jobs or intense sessions of cunnilingus. Take a break. Use your hands. Get creative. Be kind to your mouth, for it means so well and has done you no harm.
3. How any part of your body looks, smells, or feels.
Each one of these could get their own point on this list, but let's cover them in one fell swoop, shall we? Because they're really just different iterations of the same fear: worrying that any part of a woman's body isn't up to par. But I promise that everything from your labia to your leg hair is fine.
4. Wanting it to be over more quickly or last much longer.
Maybe you already had your orgasm and would like to fast-forward to the post-sex snacking, please. Maybe your partner came in what feels like .03 seconds and, while you can't begrudge them for losing it with you, you're now a tightly-wound ball of sexual frustration. This is prime time to speak up about what you want.
5. Feeling extremely turned on at the thought of a certain taboo fantasy.
Whatever, dude. As long as you're not hurting anyone (or you are, but you're doing it consensually), why beat yourself up for what you like?
6. Knowing that nothing is ever, ever going up your butt.
Sure, anal sex seems more accepted as of late. But knowing deep down in your soul that you are never going to do it doesn't make you a prude, it just means that you've got a firm handle on what you like. As long as it's not because you feel like you'd be dirty if you tried it (you wouldn't), then your preference is your preference, simple as that.
7. Having an assortment of different lubes you use for different situations.
Does your stomach miraculously speed through digestion then somehow rapidly expand in preparation of every meal you have? No. So why would you be capable of the vaginal version of that just because sex is imminent? Use lube, feel no shame, and revel in how much better it can make your sex life.
8. Pulling out a vibrator.
Unless you have a hulking, more-than-life-size vibrator with all the bells and whistles, your partner shouldn't really be intimidated. Even if you do have a vibrator like that, they should get over any potential intimidation once you patiently explain that you're using the vibrator as an addition to sex, not as a way to replace whomever you're sleeping with.
9. Having a way different sex drive from your partner.
If one of you has a sky-high sex drive and the other is fine having sex once every few weeks, it's important to be honest about where you're coming from to avoid future resentment. But neither of you should feel bad about the way your body is naturally programmed to want sex. As long as you compromise, you can still have a great sex life together.
10. Thinking of safe sex as non-negotiable.
Oh, so you decided not to have sex with some guy who swore that condoms didn't fit him? (Spare me; people put their entire forearms into those things without them snapping.) You don't deserve to second-guess yourself about that. No, you deserve to feel so proud that you consider grabbing a bullhorn, walking down the street, and encouraging other people to do the exact same thing.
11. Being really freaking good at sex.
Um, Zahra, you're probably thinking, why on earth would I feel remotely ashamed about being incredible at sex? Good question. Because sometimes after you make someone orgasm so hard they astral project onto another plane of existence, they might look at you and be like "Uh, where did you learn that?" in an entirely non-admiring way. And for that, they should really never be invited into your bed again.
Slut-shaming because you learned your sex magic by hooking up with people (how else would you do it?) isn't cool. Don't let anyone do it to you, but more than anything, definitely don't do it to yourself.
This article was originally published at Self. Reprinted with permission from the author.